This is finally the week of the 2024 NFL Draft, the week that many football fans have been waiting for. In an offseason of movement for the Green Bay Packers, their 11-pick draft is projected to start at number 25.

April 25th is the first night of the NFL Draft, and this year’s class is projected to feature four-plus quarterbacks in the first round, with the potential for six total on the first night. This kind of focus on just one position could make the end of the first round very intriguing for teams, giving Green Bay more value than usual at this point in the draft.

General manager Brian Gutekunst seems to have a certain set of criteria when it comes to making first-round selections, typically involving prospects from blue-chip programs. With the likes of Eric Stokes, Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt (Georgia) and Rashan Gary (Michigan) making up four of Gutekunst’s seven first rounders, 2024 could be a year of following that pattern.

Or, it could be a year of variance.

The following prospects would be seen as surprises if Green Bay selected them at 25th overall, and with how the Packers go through their pre-draft process, surprises to fans typically turn out to be home runs (i.e. Jordan Love). Let’s see which players could surprisingly have their names called on Thursday.

Jaden Hicks

Safety – Washington State

Jaden Hicks, Green Bay Packers, Washington State

Safety is a big-time need for the Packers, even with the free-agent signing of Xavier McKinney. With Gutekunst going on record about his desire to bring in a young safety via the draft, taking an option like Jaden Hicks would fit that bill.

With a 8.94 Relative Athletic Score (RAS), Hicks would make sense for Gutekunst to look at at the end of the first round. Grabbing Hicks here could be seen as a reach, but outside of Cooper DeJean, there is no guaranteed first-round prospect, and Hicks looks like an early-second-round option.

Jared Verse

EDGE – Florida State

Rashan Gary and Lukas Van Ness are the ‘young guns’ for Jeff Hafley’s pass rush, but with Kingsley Enagbare rehabbing his torn ACL and Preston Smith not getting any younger, this group needs more young talent. In a draft focused on offensive players, an option like Jared Verse could fall into their lap at 25.

With a high motor, strong run-game coverage, and growing pass-rush skills, Verse is the type of moldable prospect that looks very similar to the draft stocks of Gary and Van Ness. These skills absolutely could make him go prior to 25, but if he is on the board when Green Bay is selecting, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him go here.

Mike Sainristil

CB – Michigan

The nickel position for the Packers is the second biggest gap in their secondary, behind safety, and Mike Sainristil is the best nickel option in the draft. The former Wolverine boasts a solid football IQ and is not afraid to get physical in the run game, elements that would immediately elevate the Green Bay secondary.

Looked at as a second-round prospect, Gutekunst wouldn’t have a tough time justifying the Sainristil selection, especially based on his tape from Michigan.

Payton Wilson

LB – North Carolina State

The final option on this list of potential surprises is linebacker Payton Wilson from NOrth Carolina State. In a year where top-end talent at the LB position is destined to start in the second round, Wilson is probably the only LB prospect even worthy of being considered here.

A big-time threat in stopping the run, Wilson would be a home-run addition alongside Walker in Hafley’s new LB group. While it might not be something many fans are in favor of, Wilson looks to be a bonafide option for Gutekunst to add to the defensive front seven.


Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23